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How Angela Kinsey Accidentally Created One of The Office's Funniest Subplots

The Office’s unluckiest cat has an origin story that’s as crazy as the show itself.

By Benjamin Bullard

Bandit, Ember, Milky Way, and Sprinkles (R.I.P). If there’s a single long-running gag from Angela’s personal life that managed to claw out a signature space for her character on The Office, it has to be her almost unhealthy obsession (some might even say fatal) with cats.

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Watch every episode of The Office on Peacock.

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Whether it was stashing Bandit in a bottom office drawer, or leaving her medically needy kitty, Sprinkles, in the purr-fectly incapable custody of Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), Angela’s feline attachment was a defining feature for her character through all nine seasons of the show (now streaming on Peacock). And though fans may not know it, they have Angela actor Angela Kinsey to thank for introducing the idea — right from the very first episode — that her character was destined to become nothing less than The Office’s resident crazy cat lady.

R.I.P. Sprinkles: How Angela Kinsey (and Jenna Fischer) created The Office’s cat craze

According to Kinsey, it all started right from the Season 1 pilot, when she embellished a simple directing cue — just look busy handing out papers in the background — into an improvised moment with its own funny backstory.

To add some extra spice to a task as simple as passing papers around, Kinsey decided that the “papers” she’d be handing out would actually be party invitations... and not just invites to any ol’ party, but to a shindig celebrating the birthday of Sprinkles, Angela’s (at the time) totally imaginary cat.

Though Angela’s cat invitations weren’t specifically written into the show’s early story, castmate Jenna Fischer (Pam) took Kinsey’s idea and ran with it, improvising it into a pilot-episode line of dialogue between Pam and Jim (John Krasinski) after Angela’s oh-so-important "papers" (aka cat party invites) had been passed around.

“Jenna, as Pam, thought that [the invitation] was funny and she improvised the line, ‘Did you get an invitation to Angela's cat’s birthday?’” Kinsey recalled to Bustle. Jim, of course, brushed the cat party off as “ridiculous,” a reaction that Kinsey (somehow) already had anticipated since she intentionally didn’t hand him one of the coveted invitations in the first place. “My backstory,” she said, “was that [Angela] would think Jim would make fun of it, so I didn’t invite him.”

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From there, both Sprinkles and Angela’s larger cat obsession took off as an ongoing character trait on the show. The writers eventually concocted a whole constellation of distinctively-named comedic kitties for Angela to obsess over, though none met quite such a memorable fate as Sprinkles in Season 4. Fans are probably still (hilariously) traumatized over Sprinkles’ untimely end in The Office’s “Fun Run” two-part episode, when Dwight (who was low-key dating Angela at the time) just couldn’t deal with all of Sprinkles’ many medical needs and, after being put on kitty-care duty by Angela, simply stashed the fading furball in the freezer.

Dwight’s cold indifference might’ve spelled Sprinkles’ early demise on The Office itself, but the show’s cast and creative team nevertheless kept the flame of remembrance lit right up until the very end. The fateful Post-It note that Angela used to scrawl out her original pilot-episode cat party invitation remained taped to the partition that separated Angela and Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) for the rest of The Office’s run… and when the curtain fell on the series for good, Baumgartner returned it to Kinsey as a farewell souvenir. “When we wrapped the final episode of the whole series,” she told Bustle, “he gave me that Post-It note and I [still] have it.”

From start to finish, catch the complete story arc of Angela’s over-the-top cat obsession on Peacock, where all nine seasons of The Office are now streaming.